On December 4, Matt Leighninger, Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, delivered a keynote address on “Building a Civic Infrastructure” at the Second Annual Dialogue and Deliberation Convening.
Speaking to a group of dialogue and deliberation practitioners from across the Chicago-area, Leighninger explored the current civic context, detailing how citizens have changed and how they are uniquely primed to establish and shape a civic infrastructure in their communities. Leighninger defines civic infrastructure holistically, indicating that it broadly concerns “the regular opportunities, activities, and arenas that allow people to connect with each other, solve problems, make decisions, and be part of a community”; however, it is up to each community to “come up with its own definition, its own flavor, of what this looks like.” And while there are some technical examples of civic infrastructure already in place, these are generally weak and require “bridges” and “building blocks” to more effectively bring together diverse peoples who are willing to connect, interact, and compromise.
Leighninger’s remarks are now available on IPCE’s YouTube page. We encourage you to watch the video and to share your thoughts with us in the comments section on how we can strengthen Chicago’s civic infrastructure.